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My Battle With Venous Leg Ulcers

As a barber, you think all that time standing on your legs, you're going to have some lasting damage to your legs, well for most people in the hair industry, they get away with varicose gains but not me! I had an ongoing battle for 5 years with venous leg ulcers, not the nicest looking thing I may add, it looks like a been in the octagon with Connor MacGregor. What are venous leg ulcers? Is a venous disease that causes weakness in vain walls and valves, and blood leaks out of a leg vein into surrounding tissue, that causes the tissue to discolour and may begin to break down and cause a venous leg ulcer? Legs with venous ulcers usually appear swollen and the skin around the ulcer is dry, itchy and sometimes brownish due to the iron in your blood staining your skin. The ulcer is usually painless however mine hurt so much, it like someone was twisting a knife in my leg constantly. If they become infected, this can cause pain or discharge. When it all began...

It all started with some small patches of discolouration on the lower inside of both my legs and then a small spot appeared around centimetre by centimetre in size and I thought nothing it was nothing out of the ordinary but I went to dfoctors to be on the safe side and he told me "it just an affected spot, just use some antiseptic cream and just keep it clean and it should go on its own accord" so I carried on working as normal.

One day after work I come home after a hot, sweaty day of cutting hair looking like the American werewolf in Manchester, I just jumped in the shower straight away, the itching was so unbearable, after my shower I started to cook my and my partner dinner and I noticed a bit of discharge and the scab was loose on my "Infected spot", so I dabbed it with kitchen roll, and it just exploded like I just cracked a pipe, their blood oozing out my leg, and it wasn't for stopping, it was beginning to look like a murder scene, my partner began panicking, I've used a whole roll of kitchen roll to stop it bleeding and still not stopped, so she ran to the neighbour who a pharmacist, and she managed to get it to stop bleeding using a pot towel, getting me to elevate my leg, after the bleeding had stopped she told me it was a leg ulcer, it looked like I'd been shot in the leg the only way I can describe it.

The next day I went to my doctor and mentioned it yet again and they referred me to go to a treatment clinic for small wounds, he still insists that it just an affected

My first ulcer

spot, and it just needed correctly dressing and give me a prescription for pain relief gel as the pain had started.

So I attended this appointment with my pain relief gel, my homemade bandage wrapped around my leg, held on with one of my running compression socks. I went into to see the nurse and she took one look at the wound, and told me I was at the wrong clinic I needed the leg ulcer clinic, and the gel was dangerous near open wounds. Grateful the nurse managed to patch me up for the time beginning and did my referral, so I didn't have to deal with my doctor again. So A week later I visited the correct clinic this time, and I got to my appointment, and they asked if I had a doppler examination done? This was to check the level of compression I needed so I start treatment, so then as I hadn't had the doppler, I was back waiting again for treatment, more and more this wound was hurting each day and weeping through my makeshift bandage. The day finally came I got my doppler examination after 2 weeks, I never been so relieved to see a nurse, so I got my examination done and the bewildered that my circulation was perfect, and couldn't understand why I got ulcers at a young age, and not suffering from diabetes either. So, she did all the measurements, then give me a prescription for my bandages, and a few other lotions, bits, and bobs. So off I went again no dressing, stuck with a weepy leg for another week. Finally, I've got my bandages and all my other bits, off I went to my appointment, all set and ready to go. I went to the appointment during my lunch from work, so I didn't know how big this bandage going to be, well it was interesting, to say the least, the thing was huge! It covered my entire leg from toes to the thigh, I couldn't even get my pants on or shoes for that matter, I had to make an emergency phone call to my partner asking her to bring me some shorts and trainers so I get dressed to go back to work. It was summer so I could get away with shorts for a while, I guess? But every week I had to attend this clinic for new clean bandage and for my leg to be washed as I couldn't do that, I had a shower with a bin bag wrapped around my leg, which was so massively inconvenient and the smell was vile, as my leg was so sweaty and itchy! So that Appointment once a week was so welcomed. This went on for 5 months and the day I could finally no longer where this bandage was the best day of my life, the aftermath wasn't pretty, my leg looks like lizard skin, and where the skin that grown over was so delicate. I made sure my last appointment was on my day off, I had the last appointment, the bandage was gone, I wasn't finished yet! Now I had to wear sexy beige compression tights! swit swoo! Not a good look on a 26-year-old. I did as my told, but I got home I washed my leg it was such an amazing feeling having hot shower water on my leg, wash all the lizard scales off, the smell had gone! So pay dried my leg and caked it in Dermol 500, the feeling was amazing! I feel the moisture soaking into my leg. It a relief to get my leg back to normal, that's what I thought!. A Few years later...

3 Year ulcer

2 years later it came back, so I went through all the same rigmarole again! And same again year after and then again the year after but this time with a vengeance this time bigger, it like an inch by inch and inch deep and more painful and weepier! I couldn't handle this again! The weekly visits, the pre appointments, etc, so I thought right! I'm getting answers this time, there must be a reason for this to keep happening, I can't afford to keep going to this clinic since I just started my own business because if the bandage loses compression, I need to change the dressing. So I went back to the doctor's, ask to speak to a different doctor, and ended up with nurse practitioner, I thought great! I'm not going get anywhere, but I was surprised she listens to my concerns and I had my usual referral to leg ulcer clinic, and also a referral to the cardiovascular specialists, I was so relieved.

5 year ulcer

So I went home, with positive feelings I'm going finally going get answers, and surely that what I got. I sat down to eat my lunch and I got a phone call off the cardiovascular specialist, he wanted to see me straight away, cause my age, I said: "can you add do today ?" And he replied "can you do 16:30" so I snapped his hand off and I made my way there, finally I going to get the answers I wanted.

Ulcer during recovery

I got to my appointment and I sat down and he had good look at my legs and noticed he had some dark patches on my other leg, I thought "oh no! not both legs" and he said okay, we need to give you an ultrasound, to check your blood flow and how your veins are functioning, I thought to myself, "they should be working fine, I enjoying running and I like a good walk, so don't think they be that bad" but off I went for the ultrasound and soon as they started they found the issue, my superficial veins had failed and they were leaking, and also my main vein was under so much stress for returning blood to my lungs too, got say the worse bit of the ultrasound when they put the transducer into my ulcer, that wasn't pretty! I felt every vein in my head and neck pop out in trying to resist from screaming in so much pain. The conclusion from the ultrasound was that I needed surgery, I needed a stent in my groin and arterial obliteration, this didn't sound like it was going be fun, well it wasn't I had to be kept awake for these procedures, and it wasn't the best days of life, I rather went for a full day session tattoo. Surgery day...

It a beautiful summer day, I had my book, my earphones, and wearing comfortable clothing, well I check in at 9:00 and took a pew, and now it just wait, as it day surgery, so I could be called at any time. Hours past and nothing seem to be happening and then I called though, my surgeon looked the double of Jamie Fox, I had to get drawn on, and sign my life away, as he told me, he only had 3 deaths during this procedure due to the anaesthetic going too far up the main vain and into the main organ. Not what you want to hear, but I'm sure it all goes okay for me, so I got sent back through, told to get changed in some sexy paper briefs and gown, and told just to wait, I wasn't allowed my phone or book, an hour has never last so long in my life. Well I got called though put on a bed and wheeled through to the theatre, they very interesting place, a lot of noises and very cold place, well they asked me a few questions, then they started to prep me for surgery, they covered me, leaving my right groin and legs exposed, the worse bit I had when the nurse taped my meat and veg to my other groin, and guess what I couldn't shower for a few days afterwards, so I can only describe taking that tape off afterwards, I felt like I ripped them off and so then they washed me down with iodine, iodine in an ulcer, not a nice feeling, he may as well stuck in a finger in the ulcer and wiggled it around, it would be about same about of pain. Well the surgery started they were making little incisions up my leg from my ankle, so after every incision, they were an injection of anaesthetic, so I wasn't numbed at this point, it felt like torture, I haven't got the smallest of legs, they're a lot of muscle there, when they did my calf, it never felt pain like it, I just wanted to rip the surgeon head off and beat him with it, but once that area was done the rest was a doddle when the obliteration started, that was a strange feeling, I could feel the probe moving up my leg and they stop, there were a few beeps and then move up, they went all the way up my leg, when they got towards my groin I feel it around my stomach area that was very strange, as, for the stent, that looks like a small pen tube, and when that was being placed it felt like my skin was being tugged and stretched. Then after around an hour, I was all done. My legs were wrapped up, I felt like a mummy good job I had shorts and sliders.

I got wheeled back to the ward and I had to wait for an hour to make sure I had no heavy bleeding, well got offered a coffee and biscuit, not going settle my hunger, since it was 20:00 and I arrived at 9:00, well I soon am discharged, and I can get a horrible greasy pizza. The nurse popped over after an hour said I could get dressed and told me, I can remove the bandages after 2 days then I have to wear compression tights (which was a lovely forest green colour) for 2 weeks 23 hours a day and 1 hour to let my legs rest and moisturizer them so that hour was comprised of a quick shower and let my leg breathe, an hour without looking like robin hood with my fetching tights, my ulcer ended up healing within a week after the surgery I was amazed, the surgery worked, I had some slight discomfort in my groin, but no more pain.

After 2 weeks had passed I had a follow-up appointment, and I was discharged the specialist was impressed with the results from a second ultrasound and the blood flow had improved by 90% I was made up but I couldn't run for 8 weeks, or fly long haul as now I'm high risk of a DVT. Well don't think I will be getting a holiday anyway with a new business, I had to make up the 2 weeks of bed rest I had from after my operation, well since the operation I brought myself an

anti-fatigue mat and make sure I got super comfortable footwear, can't beat a pair of sketchers, now I'm looking after my legs more than I did before, I'm back running and walking now and it feels fantastic, it doesn't look healthy but I'm recovered and no more ulcers. Thank god for that!

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